There are few who would question the notion that the modern retailing landscape is becoming ever more complex and unpredictable. 2018 has seen several shock headlines with big retailers like Toys R Us and Maplin going into administration and others like Marks and Spencer and Mothercare announcing significant store closures.
What’s causing such retailing difficulties is hotly debated but some of the ley factors would seem to be issues around growing customer expectations, the increasing use of internet shopping, taxation and crowded markets.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as, in many ways, what we’re seeing is an evolution of retailing, not its demise.
So, while some big retailers may have lost the upper hand, a host of smaller, independent stores are managing to thrive in the new world order. Happily, that includes many of the Good Till’s clients.
From our perspective, their ability to not only survive in the midst of volatile market conditions, but to actually grow within them, comes down to working at a smarter level than the competition, being goal oriented, investing in the business appropriately and being prepared to adapt when necessary.
Here’s four strategies for achieving that ‘small but smart’ accolade:
1. Invest in yourself and your team
The phrase ‘every day’s a school day’ might be a bit of a cliché but, for the owner of a small retail operation, it’s a principle worth taking on board. Keeping up with the trends and other information about your market is what prevents your business from becoming stagnant and uncompetitive. You don’t have to embark on a thesis, but a good approach would be to compile a list of relevant conferences, workshops, courses and seminars in your area and then allocate time for you and key members of your team to attend those that represent the highest value to your business. Make sure to get to grips with the essential takeaways from each learning opportunity.
2. Get down to detail
In a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 61% of respondents stated that they experience issues when implementing their previously formulated strategies.
In other words, creating a high-level strategy is one thing, but putting it into action is a whole other story.
The modern market makes no allowances for badly formulated plans so go back to the strategy and ensure you have a thorough action plan with clearly defined steps to back it up. If your goal is to diversify your product offer, create timescales for research and development, customer testing, marketing and sales analysis. If something like a new or upgraded point of sale system is on that list, come up with milestones for the costing out, risk assessment, trialling, training and implementation phases.
3. Deploy the best tech you can afford
The good news is that much of the technology that was once the domain of larger retailers is now far more accessible and affordable for independent businesses. In fact, when it comes to using apps, social media and messaging tools, the independents possibly have the creative advantage that comes from not being bound by quite so many corporate policies.
Take a good look at all the tech/ tools you have in your business, then collaborate with experts to streamline processes and so increase your competitive edge. Maybe you can switch standard communications from email to live chat; ditch project papers for project management software; or switch from a traditional checkout to a customisable smart point of sale system plus mobile payment options. (Get this idea moving forward by talking to a member of our team today)
4. Question everything
Another key part of moving forwards as opposed to stagnating, is being prepared to question what you’re doing and adapt when necessary:
Are you operating in the right sectors?
Are some products/ sectors failing to produce a viable ROI?
Is your product positioning the best it can be?
Which of your staff are performing the best and the worst and why?
By asking questions like these, you’re effectively monitoring all aspects of your business and giving yourself the best chance of spotting where you might be able to be more efficient, rectify a problem or capitalise on successes.
One of the key benefits of a modern POS system is that, with accurate reporting features on sales, inventory and performance, it can help you get all the answers you need!
Ready to go smart?
Keeping your retailing business on track is never going to be easy, but with continual and appropriate levels of investment (in yourself, your team, your planning and your tech) even the smallest of operations can prove their muscle.
Remember, there’s no such thing as being ‘too smart’ so keep a watch for the ‘room for improvement’ markers and stay flexible to new approaches.
Talk to us at the Good Till to find out more about how the multiple features in our POS system are helping retailers of all sizes to stay competitive.